If you have even one piece of sterling silver jewelry in your jewelry collection, there’s a good chance that over time you’ve noticed a darkening of its color, ranging from yellow and reddish-brown to black and blue. This varnish layer forming on the surface of your jewelry is called tarnish. There’s good news though—tarnishing silver jewelry can be cleaned and we’re here to help give you the best way to clean your sterling silver at home.


Important Details About Sterling Silver 

Durable and versatile, this metal is an easy addition to any collection and one of the most common jewelry materials. Unfortunately, sterling silver tarnishes easily, especially if it has been a while since you have worn that particular piece of silver jewelry. The toughness of sterling silver lends itself to being an alloy comprised of around 7.5% of another metal, consequently speeding up the rate of tarnish. Pure silver will tarnish at a slower rate, but you lose some of the durability that makes sterling silver such a great everyday choice for jewelry. Interestingly, your skin’s natural oils help clean your silver and prevent tarnish, meaning that wearing your jewelry regularly can help it stay shiny. How cool is that?  

Getting Started

Ready to start cleaning your sterling silver jewelry? You will need the following items:

  • Two bowls
  • Warm water
  • Mild soap
  • Soft, dry cloth
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Polishing cloth

Start by adding the warm water to each bowl and mixing a couple of drops of mild soap into one of the bowls and stirring until bubbles form.

items to clean your sterling silver jewelry

Step 1

Soak jewelry in warm, soapy water.

Warm, soapy water will allow every crevice of the piece to be cleaned and sterilized. Let jewelry soak for 5-10 minutes.

Soaking silver jewelry in warm, soapy water

Step 2

Using the soft-bristled brush, gently brush your jewelry with the warm, soapy water.

It is important that the brush is soft to avoid any damage to the piece. Pay special attention to the underside and crevices of your jewelry where dirt and grime can accumulate.

gently brushing jewelry with soft-bristled brush

Step 3

Rinse your jewelry in warm water.

Rinsing thoroughly prevents soap build-up. We recommend rinsing your jewelry in a bowl of warm water and not over the sink where your jewelry could slip down a drain.

Rinsing jewelry in warm water

Step 4

Use a soft, dry cloth to dry your sterling silver jewelry.

If the cloth is too hard or rough, it may cause damage to the piece by scratching it. For this reason, avoid using paper products like napkins and paper towels.

Dry silver jewelry with a soft dry cloth

Step 5

Restore shine as needed with a silver polishing cloth.

Use a long, back-and-forth motion across the jewelry piece to polish and remove tarnish. Polishing your sterling silver jewelry pieces regularly can prevent tarnish from taking over. JTV’s Jewelry Cleaning Essentials Polishing Cloth is the perfect tool for polishing these pieces regularly.

Polishing silver with a polishing cloth

Clean Your Silver with JTV’s Exclusive Cleaning Essentials

For cleaning your platinum jewelry, we recommend using our JTV Cleaning Essentials Jewelry Care System. This gentle system is a tested formula to super-clean your jewelry in just a few steps.

Start by opening the cleanser and pulling out the basket inside the container. Sit your jewelry on the strainer-like surface and slowly let the basket down to the bottom of the container. Let your jewelry soak in the cleanser for about two minutes. After two minutes, slowly pull up the basket and remove your jewelry.

Next, you'll want to take the small touch-up brush and gently clean the surface of your jewelry. Pay special attention to hard-to-reach areas. Rinse jewelry carefully with lukewarm water and blot dry with a soft, dry cloth.

After cleaning, you'll want to use your Cleaning Essentials polishing cloth and rub gently to remove any residue and add a finishing shine. You can also use this polishing cloth regularly to polish your jewelry and stop tarnish as it starts.

For more information about each product and its ingredients, visit https://www.jtv.com/help/jewelry-cleaner.

JTV's Jewelry Cleaning Essentials

More Tips to Care for Sterling Silver

  • To prevent damage or discoloration, remove sterling silver jewelry when swimming, entering a hot tub, doing a strenuous workout or cleaning with harsh chemicals.
  • Consider removing your silver jewelry when bathing to keep soap scum from building up on the surface and dulling its shine.
  • Prevent your silver jewelry from coming into contact with perfumes, hair spray, makeup or lotions.
  • Store sterling silver jewelry pieces inside a jewelry pouch or box where it will not be exposed to open air—even an air-tight plastic bag can help prevent tarnish. We also recommend storing jewelry pieces separately to prevent scratching and damage.

We hope our cleaning guide on sterling silver jewelry was helpful! For more jewelry care tips, check out our jewelry cleaning guide for overall advice on jewelry maintenance.

Erin Smith

Erin enjoys empowering fellow jewelry lovers with the knowledge and tools to care for their jewelry and keep it sparkling like the day they purchased it.

Read more about Erin on her author page

Erin Smith